Haniger's walk-off HR caps wild win for sweep

June 13th, 2018

SEATTLE -- The rain was falling at Safeco Field, which is an unusual thing for a stadium with a retractable roof. But Mitch Haniger peered through the oncoming drizzle, squared up a 1-0 splitter from Angels reliever and did something that is becoming more and more usual for a surging Seattle club.

Haniger's two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday gave Seattle the 8-6 victory, its sixth walk-off win of the season. This one catapulted the Mariners to a three-game sweep of the Angels, keeping them atop the American League West at 44-24.
The surprising Mariners have won four in a row and are 20-5 since May 18, their best 25-game stretch since 2003. It's the first time Seattle has been 20 games over .500 since Aug. 24, 2007, and they now lead the Majors with 13 game-tying or go-ahead home runs in the seventh inning or later.

Clearly something is in the water this season in Seattle, and not just because the roof didn't close in time to prevent Haniger from getting wet just as he was launching his third home run in the past two games to set off another home-plate celebration at Safeco.
"It's been fun," said Haniger, who now has 16 homers and 52 RBIs. "You're never out of a game with these guys, so it's been good. When they went up two, me and [catcher Mike Zunino] were sitting in the little video room and I was telling him, 'We're going to win this game.' And he said, 'I know we are.' We're never out of a game. We just keep bringing it."
Haniger has been at the front of that attack of late, hitting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup vacated by the suspension of , but he's hardly been alone. Shortstop 's RBI double in the seventh had closed the Angels' 6-4 lead to one run before launched his fourth homer in the past three games -- a 441-foot shot, per Statcast™ -- to tie the game in the eighth.

Segura then hit a one-out single in the ninth to set up Haniger's game-winner.
"Our team has absolutely no quit," said manager Scott Servais, "and it's great to see."
Haniger hit two home runs and made a spectacular defensive play in Tuesday's 6-3 win and he followed up the game-winner on Wednesday with another critical outfield assist as he doubled pinch-runner off first base for the final out in the top of the ninth.

Haniger is ranked 13th in the outfield voting on the initial AL All-Star voting released Tuesday and Healy is leading the charge to get him sent to Washington, D.C., for the Midsummer Classic next month.
"We need to send him to D.C.," Healy said. "That needs to become a memo. There's no reason that man does not deserve to go to D.C., the way he contributes to this team day in and day out. Offensively, defensively, his persona. Just his aura, everything about him. It's so special. It's crazy to think how young he is in this game."
Mariners lefty (7-3, 3.42 ERA) wasn't as sharp as he's been in recent outings, allowing seven hits and three runs with two walks and seven strikeouts over five innings. He'd given up just three earned runs over his previous 33 1/3 innings. But after departing with a 4-3 lead, he wound up with a no-decision and is still 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his past six starts.
Pitching has carried the Mariners much of their recent hot stretch, but now the bats are regaining steam, just in time to face a 10-game stretch against AL East powers Boston and New York.
But the Mariners' bats are warming, as they also got a two-run homer from in the third inning, his fifth in the past five games.

"One guy gets hot in our lineup, they can carry this entire squad," Healy said. "We've watched Nelson Cruz carry this squad. We've watched Mitch Haniger carry this squad. We've watched numerous guys carry us. It's special. You get a couple guys hot and we're pretty dangerous. It's fun to be a part of right now."
Gonzales only got through five innings, his shortest outing in his last 10 starts. But he dug deep to prevent a big Angels rally in the fifth by striking out and to strand and at the corners and preserve a 4-3 lead.

"This was one of those starts you learn a lot from," Gonzales said. "I did my best to stay composed and keep battling. I didn't have the fastball command that I like, so I had to spin and really compete and keep Trout in the yard and keep the ball on the ground. In the fifth, I got a couple huge strikeouts there. The mound visit from [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] was huge. We had a solid game plan the next couple guys up and executed it perfectly." 
Segura went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .347. Since May 18, he's hit .421 (40-for-95) in a 24-game stretch.

Healy's eighth-inning home run into the upper deck in left field was projected at 441 feet by Statcast™, the second-longest homer of the season by a Mariner. Cruz hit one 453 feet at Texas on April 21.
"I said when this homestand started, we were looking forward to this stretch of games.  A lot of our fans and people said, 'We'll just wait and see.' Our team is really good. If you don't enjoy and connect with our club right here, you just don't like baseball. This is what we've talked about bringing to the Pacific Northwest. We have a chance to do something special here this summer. Our guys feel it and the people in the ballpark certainly feel it as well." -- Servais
Segura was called out at the plate on a wild play in the seventh, and the out was confirmed after a Mariners' challenge. Segura gamely tried to dodge a tag from David Fletcher, the Angels' third baseman, who took a throw from Maldonado after a wild scramble on a short fly to left by Cruz. Segura faked going home from third on the shallow fly, but then bolted for the plate when left fielder 's throw sailed wide. Fletcher received the throw from Maldonado in time to easily tag Segura, but the Mariners' shortstop threw a head fake and dived to the plate, with his hand touching the dish just as he was tagged.

The ruling on the field was out, and that call stood after a review failed to show definitively that Segura had touched the plate before being tagged. More >
(6-5, 5.70 ERA) is coming off his shortest start of the season, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits in three innings in a 7-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday. He'll try to get back on track at Safeco Field against Red Sox lefty (7-4, 4.00 ERA) in Thursday's 7:10 p.m. PT series opener between two of the top teams in the American League. Hernandez has allowed five earned runs in four of his last seven starts.